CE Europe the new DTH battle ground

SES Astra has won the contract to carry Bulgaria’s Satellite BG pay TV platform, heading off stiff competition from a number of rival satellite operators. Satellite BG will transmit from Astra’s increasingly busy 23.5 degrees East position, and take three transponders effective today in readiness for the platform’s 70-channel debut on February 1.

Central and Eastern Europe is proving to be a buoyant market for most of Europe’s satellite operators. This latest SES Astra contract follows on from a three-year capacity extension for rival Eutelsat only last week from Albania’s DigitalB platform. Besides Astra, Eutelsat is extremely active in the C/E European DTH space as is Telenor, Intelsat and Israel’s Spacecom.

The aim for each of these rival operators is to win sufficient support to make their orbital position a ‘hot spot’ neighbourhood, and this Bulgarian deal taps into Astra’s other carriage deals aimed at the Czech and Slovak Republics. Other customers on 23.5 degrees East include Canal Digitaal and TV Vlaanderen in the Benelux and pan-European operators Viacom, Turner, Discovery and Bloomberg.

A strong benefit is that viewers with a dedicated Duo-LNB can receive signals from Astra’s 23.5 and 19.2 degrees East orbital positions and thus benefit from the free-to-air channel offer from Astra’s important prime orbital position 19.2 degrees East.

Norbert Hölzle, CCO at SES Astra, said: “This agreement is our entry into the Bulgarian market. Satellite BG is an important new customer who will help us to open up the Bulgarian market for our products and services. This agreement demonstrates that Astra’s 23.5 degrees East orbital position is one of the most attractive hot spots for the whole region, enabling us to further extend our reach and develop our offer.”

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